Asian cities are undergoing rapid developments that have dramatically changed their cityscape and social and economic life. The vibrant cultural life and economic prosperity of the middle-class in many of these cities stand in stark contrast to the life of migrants and new residents who live in squalid slums and try to make ends meet. The history and development of Asian cities look very different. Some Asian cities have been strongly influenced by their colonial past but today all feel the impact of globalization, albeit in different ways.
The global city has become a popular term widely used in geography and urban studies but is under-studied in the Asian context. Asian global cities furthermore have some unique features that differ from those in the West (cities such as London and New York) and it is therefore of interest to explore this topic further. Like global cities elsewhere, Asian global cities are being transformed from industrial centres to important cultural and cosmopolitan centres. As a result of rapid urbanisation and the globalization process, many cities in Asia also face serious challenges when it comes to infrastructure and sustainable development.
Asian cities can be studied from many different perspectives and provide us with important insights into the social, economic, cultural and political life of contemporary Asia. The four talks will address the situation and development in different Asian cities, including Calcutta, Jakarta, and Tokyo. The lecturers come from different disciplines, such as architecture and architectural history, urban studies, and cultural studies, and they address somewhat different issues, including urbanisation, spatial culture, the impact of colonialism and globalization, nostalgia for the past, and the way historical memory manifests itself in urban space.